Libertarian Party Delivers Signatures to Gain Ballot Access in Oklahoma

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There was a press conference this morning in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to announce that 42,000 signatures had been gathered to place the Libertarian Party on the ballot in this state. The required amount of signatures is 24,475, but many more were collected to account for some signatures being found to be invalid.

The Libertarian Party hasn’t had ballot access in Oklahoma since 2000. The ballot access laws there have been among the toughest in the country.

Here is a report from a local news station.

IPR has covered much of this effort. This article will be updated as events occur.

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Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the Libertarian Party, in Oklahoma City

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Nicholas Sarwark, Chairman of the Libertarian Party

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Oklahoma Libertarian Party press conference with Wes Benedict, Tina Kelly (Oklahoma Libertarian Party Vice Chair), Nicholas Sarwark, and Dax Ewbank.

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Dax Ewbank talks about why he left his old party for the Libertarian Party. He was a Republican Party candidate for governor in 2014.

23 thoughts on “Libertarian Party Delivers Signatures to Gain Ballot Access in Oklahoma

  1. Andy Craig

    Minor correction: Ewbank was a GOP candidate for Governor, running in the primary against the incumbent. He wasn’t the GOP nominee.

  2. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Not celebrating too much until it’s official, but congrats on one hell of an effort!

    I considered waiting until they get an official okay after the signatures have been looked at, Jed, but since they had a press conference, I thought it was safe to post.

  3. Andy

    Turning in the signatures is newsworthy, but this does not mean that the Libertarian Party has qualified for the ballot in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma election officials check the validity of the signatures, and they will determine whether or not the Libertarian Party has enough valid signatures to qualify for the Oklahoma ballot. Hopefully, the party will have enough valid signatures to qualify (I believe 24,745 (or something close to that) is needed), but this will be another story for another day.

  4. Nicholas Sarwark

    My comment from the January 12, 2016 IPR article on the Oklahoma drive:

    Andy is correct that the LNC (and more specifically myself and Mr. Benedict) should be blamed if the petition drive in Oklahoma fails. I’m sure that he will apply the same logic should the drive be a success.

    The Secretary of the State Election Board has 30 days to certify that we were successful. I am confident that he will do so, based on the raw number (over 42,000) and the validity checking done internally.

  5. Steven Wilson

    Congratulations. Oklahoma is a big nut to crack. I hope it goes well.

    I will be interested in discovering the Cost per vote after November. Being on the ballot is just the first step. The LP needs candidates that inspire.

    Cheers.

  6. Krzysztof Lesiak

    How does it look for the other states besides Oklahoma? Will there be LP ballot access in at least the 49 other states? Are there any tough states out there with high bars set for the LP to get on the ballot?

  7. George Phillies

    Chris,

    There is appreciable discussion of ballot access in the huge thread on the LNC meeting. The LNC is seriously short of money to pull this off.

    George

  8. Darcy G Richardson

    This is quite an accomplishment. My hat’s off to the Libertarian Party and particularly to Richard Winger, whose personal generosity, and Paulie, whose tireless on-the-ground efforts — both of whom are national treasures — made it possible. Good job.

  9. Andy

    “Nicholas Sarwark
    February 22, 2016 at 18:50
    My comment from the January 12, 2016 IPR article on the Oklahoma drive:

    ‘Andy is correct that the LNC (and more specifically myself and Mr. Benedict) should be blamed if the petition drive in Oklahoma fails. I’m sure that he will apply the same logic should the drive be a success.’
    The Secretary of the State Election Board has 30 days to certify that we were successful. I am confident that he will do so, based on the raw number (over 42,000) and the validity checking done internally.”

    I doubt that the petition drive in Oklahoma is going to fail at this point. Paul and some others did a sample validity check, and they think that the party probably has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, especially since they found out that the Oklahoma election officials will probably use a more “liberal” definition of what constitutes a valid signature than they had originally thought would be used.

    So, it looks like there is a very good chance that the Libertarian Party will have party status in Oklahoma for the first time since the 2000 election.

    Now does this mean that this was a well executed petition drive? Not really. Lots of things could have been done better. The drive could have been finished earlier, and as usual, more outreach could have been conducted during the course of the drive (outside of the efforts of Paul and myself, not much Libertarian outreach took place, and I left the drive weeks before it ended, and Paul gathered very few signatures after I left the state, due to not having a reliable person with whom he could ride in a car, so Paul converted to being an office worker after I left).

    The LP petition drive in Oklahoma as it was conducted would have failed if not for the fact that Oklahoma is an initiative and referendum state, which means that there are some people who live in Oklahoma who have got experience working on petitions. Enough of these people came out of the “woodwork,” particularly after the pay rate went from $2 to $2.50, to rescue this petition drive from failure. None of these people were libertarians, and I don’t think that any of them, or at least most of them, produced great numbers of signatures on an individual basis, but there were a lot of them. I asked Paul how many petition circulators ended up working on the drive, and he was not even sure, even though he ran a lot of the validity checks and took some of the turn ins of signatures. Paul said he thinks that there were like 40-50 people who worked on the petition drive at some point. So if you have lots of people, even if many of them are collecting small numbers of signatures, it can add up to a lot of signatures.

    If the same set of circumstances had happened in a state that did not have an initiative & referendum process, the Libertarian Party would have likely been screwed in Oklahoma. Why? Because there’d have been less people living in the state with any experience in collecting signatures on petitions.

    Finding people who will go out and collect petition signatures, even for pay, is a lot more difficult than a lot of people realize. There is a reason that a lot of groups that put candidates or issues on the ballot spend lots of money paying signature gatherers, and spend lots of money on travel and motels for petition signature gatherers. That’s because it is hard work that a lot of people do not want to do, or do not have much time to do even if they are willing to do it.

    So I think that the Libertarian Party petition drive in Oklahoma is probably going to survive the validity and will therefore be a ballot qualified party in Oklahoma this year, which means that they will be able to run a slate of candidates with the Libertarian Party label next to their name. So from this perspective, the petition drive will have been a success (at least it will probably be).

    Was it what I’d call an ideally run petition drive? No.

    Things I’d have done had I been in a position to call the shots:

    1) I’d have started it earlier.

    2) I’d have budgeted more money from the beginning.

    3) I’d have sent letters and made phone calls to various government “authorities” in Oklahoma prior to the petition drive starting to clarify where petition circulators could go to ask people to sign the petition. I’d have filed law suits over this if necessary.

    4) I’d have tried to “staff” the petition drive with all Libertarian activists, both paid and volunteer, and I’d have encouraged them to engage in as much outreach as possible during the drive, and to get contact information from anyone whom they encountered who said that they were interested in the Libertarian Party.

    5) If it became necessary to hire non-libertarian mercenaries, I’d have made an attempt to hire the best ones I could, rather than taking anyone who came in off the streets. There was an effort put into hiring medical marijuana activists who were collecting volunteer signatures on a Medical Marijuana initiative in Oklahoma (the Medical Marijuana campaign had no money, so they were all unpaid volunteers) that went on for 90 days while the LP petition was circulating. The problem was that the leader of the Medical Marijuana campaign wanted the Medical Marijuana campaign to keep 100% of the money that any Medical Marijuana petition circulator earned off of the Libertarian Party petition. This demotivated the Medical Marijuana petition circulators from working on the Libertarian Party petition. If the Medical Marijuana petition circulators had been able to keep 100% of the money from the Libertarian Party petition for any signatures they collected on it, or even some of the money, they’d have been more motivated to collect signatures on the Libertarian Party petition, which meant that they’d have gathered more signatures on it, which would have meant that the Libertarian Party petition drive in Oklahoma would ended earlier. There should have been an effort to hire the Medical Marijuana petitioners directly, rather than going through the Medical Marijuana organization (which wanted to keep 100% of the money from the LP), or to at least work out a deal where the Medical Marijuana petition circulators could keep at least some of the money from the Libertarian Party petition.

    6) I’d have worked out a method to check validity that would have been in place before the petition drive started, and low validity producers (there were some people who worked on the drive who brought in unacceptably low validity rates) should have had their pay docked. Oklahoma is a difficult state, so the acceptable validity rate should have been adjusted downward, but still, there’s a point where a validity rate is so low that it is not excusable (like 30% for instance).

    So the petition drive in Oklahoma was run in a manner that was far from what I’d call ideal, but it looks like the party is going to make it.

    Now South Dakota is another situation, and I’d do not know if they party is going to be able to salvage this one, although, if the LP petition drive for party status in South Dakota does fail (the deadline in March 29th), the party can do another petition drive after the national convention in May to place the presidential ticket on the ballot in South Dakota as independents.

  10. thomas

    to the communist libertarian party, you suck and stink. you have no business trying to sabotage our election! your candidates will fail like ralph nader did back in 2000 running as a green party. you have alot of nerve trying to deflect voters away. my wife and are hard core trump supporters and this is an outrage! if you think your going to beat the donald or killary which the donald will put to pasture your dreaming!

    donald john trump is our next president, live with it!

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